Country Mayors Association of NSW (CMA) chair and Gunnedah mayor Jamie Chaffey said the announcement of a review into NSW Local Government financial sustainability “has been a long time coming”.

The NSW government recently released the review’s draft terms of reference for further consultation by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART).

But mayor Chaffey said many of the draft terms of reference to IPART for the review were focused on issues that were already prescribed under the Local Government Act 1993 relating to the integrated planning and reporting process to government and communities plus the audit requirements.

“This review should be focused on the financial sustainability of local government to ensure the critical services we provide can and will continue to the level of expectation of our residents,” he said.

“A number of the proposed terms of reference may be better covered in a holistic review of the Local Government Act rather than serving as a potential distraction from the real issue of insufficient revenue for many of our member councils.

“In most rural and regional communities, council is the major employer and people tend to see us as the public service provider.

“Better and more consistent funding of rural and regional councils, particularly in relation to roads, is critical to financial sustainability.”

Cr Chaffey said data analysis of 87 CMA member councils’ financials showed that operating expenses are far higher per capita, yet low rate bases mean smaller councils rely on up to 80 per cent of their revenue coming from grants.


Draft terms of reference
IPART should review and recommend improvements on the following matters:

  1.  The visibility of councillors and the community over the financial and operational performance of their councils.
  2.  Whether the current budget and financial processes used by councils are delivering value for money for ratepayers and residents.
  3.  Whether the current funding model will sustainably support the needs of communities.
  4. Whether councils (both councillors and staff) have the financial capacity and capacity and capability to meet current and future needs of communities.
  5.  How can better planning and reporting systems improve long term budget performance, transparency and accountability to the community?
  6.  Any other matters IPART considers relevant.

To order photos from this page click here